As a Sprint facilitator, it is very easy to focus too much on the “How” while planning a Sprint: When is the date? What is the room situation? What are the activities and agenda for each day? Those are questions that are important but not critical. Before getting into the logistics, there are two important things to focus on to ensure the success of a Design Sprint.

It’s often difficult for us humans to challenge our assumptions and everyday knowledge, because we rely on building patterns of thinking in order to not have to learn everything from scratch every time. We rely on doing everyday processes more or less unconsciously — for example, when we get up in the morning, eat, walk, and read — but also when we assess challenges at work and in our private lives. In particular, experts and specialists rely on their solid thought patterns, and it can be very challenging and difficult for experts to start questioning their knowledge.

The outcome of a Design Sprint is not an end result, but rather a starting point. The goal of a Design Sprint is not to end up with a perfect solution after just one week, but to get feedback on one or two possible solutions. What we usually see is that the direction is so big (because your problem is big), you need to further split your solutions into chewable chucks to for prioritization and phasing. So don’t focus too much on building exactly what you come up with in the Sprint, the result of a successful Design Sprint is better understanding of the problem, better alignment within the team and feedback on potential solutions you can further research and design on.
Richard Thaler, the Nobel Prize winning economist, talks about a mythical species that is real only to an economist. The Homo Economicus — he calls them Econ for short. An Econ is an extremely rational being and believes in maximizing utility with every decision they make. This is what a prototypical Econ looks and behaves like: I believe when we… Read More →
After you have a big and vague problem that your team decided to run a Sprint on, the next step is further defining the problem so that it’s concrete and manageable. Instead of a too vague statement like “How to reduce food waste in New York City”. You and the team need to do some pre-work to further define the problem — Who are the users? What’s your product focus/technology/strength? What are the constrains? Believe it or not, your team usually already know a lot about the problem. Someone in the organization probably already done some research or had some ideas. If your team has nothing, then look outside your organization, chances are that there is a competitor somewhere already doing something similar.

“When we heard about Wily's Two-Day Design Sprint Bootcamp, it was a no-brainer for us to sign up a team from Duke Energy's Idea Lab. We’ve been using Design Sprints at our company for almost 2 years now, and we’re excited to get some fresh perspective and new ideas from Jake Knapp, Jeff Grant, Wily's seasoned experts, and the other bootcamp participants. We're also big fans of Jake—it's a big deal to have him in Charlotte and hope others will take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity."

Jonathan is the Co-Founder of AJ&Smart and is a Product Designer working between Berlin and San Francisco. His passion is helping companies work better together and empowering individuals to make real change in their organisation. He’s worked with everyone from General Electric, to LEGO, and Airbnb. Fun fact: Jonathan co-hosts a podcast with Jake Knapp, check it out here. 

Day 3 sees us kick off prototyping, and we do this pretty much exactly as stated in the book, so nothing new to report here. It’s noise-cancelling-headphones-on mode for our resident Prototyper, and we’ll have a couple of huddles throughout the day to make sure we’re all on track. We’ll also update the client at the end of the day to keep them involved and show them what we’ve been doing throughout the day.

Some designers have argued Google Glass is actually an exemplar of design thinking. The project was a grand experiment that incorporated creative risks and unconventional thinking—and a failure that is possibly more revealing than success would have been. Design thinking is simply manifested differently at a massive company like Google than it is in a classroom or studio, said Daniel Rose, an officer at a design-oriented consulting firm, in a LinkedIn discussion.
Graphite introduced design sprints to clients in the first year that the the process was published by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures, which means we’ve optimised our own design sprints throughout the years. After facilitating many design sprints for our clients including Pfizer and Safilo, we realised that many clients wanted to train their own in-house teams in the design sprint methodology. Here are the design sprint training courses we offer. We also facilitate & provide design sprint teams.
The word sprint comes from the world of Agile, and it describes a short period of time, typically 1–4 weeks, set aside to accomplish a focused goal. The design sprint is no different. It uses the original concept of the sprint to describe a period of time dedicated to working on the necessary design thinking. This time-bounded paradigm is critical to the success of the design sprint. Timeboxing, as it’s sometimes called, is essential to driving the right types of behavior from the participants. In addition to speeding up the product design and development process, it also takes advantage of core parts of our human nature: energy economy and social collaboration.
Test the prototype with real live humans, and validate. The team finally gets to see live users interact with their idea,s and hear direct feedback from the target audience. Everyone on the team observes the Validation sessions: watching your users try out the prototype is the best way to discover major issues with your design, which in turn lets you start iterating immediately. In addition, the team can organize a review to collect feedback from Technical Experts or Leadership Stakeholders.
Ah, Tuesday morning. A leisurely stroll around the gallery of concept sketches, coffee cup in hand, taking it all in. We spend the whole morning deciding what to prototype, starting with the Heat Map, where people place multiple votes on inspiring parts of sketches so that clusters can form. These clusters are then highlighted in the solution presentations, where the moderator walks the room through each individual sketch, followed by the straw poll (where everybody puts one vote on the one solution they want to push forward). The morning is rounded off with the Decider’s vote, where they pick one or two concepts that they want to prototype.

We’ve designed the materials so that you won’t need one. We make everything as detailed and descriptive as possible so that you don’t need to ask a Mentor questions and wait for their answer, something that we feel breaks up the flow and could delay your progress. With this said, if you come up against questions or problems as you go through the course then we’ll always give you multiple ways to reach out to us to help, and we’ll happily do so 🙂
Once everyone is BFFs, we introduce design sprints as a practice. We talk about how they fit into the bigger picture of business innovation, design thinking, and product development. We help attendees understand the work your team will need to do before the sprint, to ensure we’re connecting business value to the sprint, as well as choosing the right/best challenge.
Design sprints can help prevent you from building the wrong thing even when your customers say it’s the right thing. Larissa Levine, from the Advisory Board Company, believes that a design sprint is successful if it guides you toward building the right product feature. As she explains, “Product marketing wants to sell this one feature and says, ‘let’s build XYZ because we heard that the user said they wanted XYZ,’ when actually, that’s not the problem at all. They think they want XYZ, but it’s not it at all. So you end up building the wrong thing.”
Day 3 sees us kick off prototyping, and we do this pretty much exactly as stated in the book, so nothing new to report here. It’s noise-cancelling-headphones-on mode for our resident Prototyper, and we’ll have a couple of huddles throughout the day to make sure we’re all on track. We’ll also update the client at the end of the day to keep them involved and show them what we’ve been doing throughout the day.